After reports this morning that 76ers first-round pick Nerlens Noel was cleared by noted athletic surgeon Dr. James Andrews to begin “basketball related activities”, and make his NBA debut in a little over a month, 76ers General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Sam Hinkie, had this to say tonight, via a team press release.
“Since his arrival in Philadelphia, Nerlens’ capacity for work both in his rehab and in our weight room has been incredible. Our sports performance and training staff have been extremely complimentary of his efforts thus far during this methodical rehab process.
“After careful consideration and numerous discussions with our medical and performance teams, the consulting physician and rehabilitation staff, and Nerlens’ representatives, some of the restrictions on Nerlens have been lifted and he is now able to participate in limited on-court work.
“There are several benchmarks Nerlens still must meet, and during that time we will closely monitor his progress and regularly evaluate his status. Our goal remains the same, which is to give Nerlens every opportunity to ensure a long, productive NBA career.”
To me that sounds like Hinkie has little intention of bringing Noel back anytime soon, and is likely to push his return back as far as he can.
I’m not sure that the Sixers will be able to avoid Noel playing this season, and risking re-injuring the knee he tore 11 months ago, but the hope for much of the fanbase is that it can be pushed back as far as possible.
Not only does Noel have the chance to re-injure his knee if he is rushed back into game-action, but he could push the Sixers draft position even lower, if he plays at the high level that had him projected to be the top pick in last June’s draft. I think in reality that is the bigger concern by the fanbase and front-office, because it would be a stretch to say the Noel has rushed back, considering that if he returns after the NBA All-Star game, it will have been over a year since his torn ACL.